by Trevor Hopkins

I snorted, with perhaps rather more derision than he really deserved.

"Those are just Far-Seeing glamours, standard stuff," I exclaimed, "Surely you've got the usual Safeguard magics around the place?"

This point will probably need a certain amount of explanation for a human audience. The Goblin world - the deep caverns which have long since passed out of memory for almost all of the surface dwellers - were once constructed using forces and techniques for which the best available word is magic. The word is misleading, perhaps, since it suggests something not readily amenable to rational understanding; it's just that the appropriate rational understanding seems to be impossible to convey in any of the human tongues.

Glamours are - well, the best description is "individually deployable simple magics". It's the kind of thing I always carry a few of around with me, in the capacious pockets of that old overcoat I was wearing. In principle, a glamour can do anything - absolutely anything at all - although the more powerful magics are increasingly rare, expensive and - in at least some cases – extremely illegal.

The other thing about glamours is that, for each magical action there is a counteracting magic. Oh, there are some counter-examples, of course; the ancient beings known as the Old Ones are reputed to retain a number of capabilities against which there is no known protection. But, for ordinary everyday glamours - like the ability to see at a distance, even within a closed room - there are widely-used protective magics which prevent such spying. And because, like people everywhere, Goblins value their privacy, those Safeguard spells are ubiquitous down here - to the point that some of us have almost forgotten their existence.

Broxden looked at me severely.

"They're not using magic," he said slowly.

Now I was puzzled. Time to keep quiet, Gask.

The bossman took something from his desk drawer and tossed it over to me. I managed to avoid fumbling it.

"Take a look at that," Broxden said, "Do you know what it is?"

I inspected the little device in my hand. A squat black cylinder, with a glass lens set into one circular surface and a tail of thin wire an inch or so long emerging from the other side.

"It's a bug!" I exclaimed, "A camera, and probably a microphone. With transmitting capability."

"Quite right, Mister Gask," Broxden said with a trace of approval, "We've found several in the dressing rooms. And more keep appearing. We're checking over the whole place several times a day, but I'm certain that we're not finding them all."

"How can you be so certain?" I asked.

Broxden sighed, then pulled something else - a piece of paper - from his desk drawer. This time he walked carefully over to my chair and handed the paper to me with a slight air of reverence.

"Take a look at this," he said, handing me what turned out to be an only slightly fuzzy photograph.

I turned the picture around and studied the image carefully. It showed a young and astonishingly attractive female Goblin wearing essentially nothing, while being helped to step into a costume which seemed to consist entirely of feathers and sequins.

"That picture was taken yesterday," Broxden said gravely, "The outfit was only delivered yesterday morning. And this photograph arrived in the post this morning."

"Was there any note with this picture?" I asked, handing the picture back carefully.

"No, nothing," he replied.

Just at that moment, the phone tinkled on Broxden's desk. I looked at it politely. He walked over, picked it up, said "yes" in a non-committal kind of way, listened for a few seconds, then returned the receiver to its cradle without another word.

"Come with me," he instructed tersely.

Part 4 Part 6